Truth a casualty in HP's "toner only" advertising

03 July 2007

Recent advertising by HP makes misleading statements about the technology used to generate cost savings. The adverts, placed in leading channel publications Microscope and Computer Reseller News (CRN), claim that customers need only replace toner during the life of the new HP Colour LaserJet CP3505, thereby reducing the number of consumables and saving money.

This is untrue.

The HP CP3505 uses legacy print cartridges from the HP Colour LaserJet 3600 and 3800 printer series. These cartridges certainly contain toner but, crucially, they also contain a print drum, cleaning parts and numerous other mechanical pieces (see attached photographs).

It is absolutely clear that when HP’s advertising says the Colour LaserJet CP3505 “only requires replacement toner throughout its life. And nothing else” it is untrue. The drums are simply hidden within the print cartridges and the user pays accordingly. The packaging for HP print cartridges states that “HP Print Cartridges are responsible for 70% of the printer’s imaging system”; a statement which is not compatible with claims that the cartridges contain only toner.

HP’s claim that the Colour LaserJet CP3505 “won’t cost you the earth” is also misleading. Using data from analyst company Context, the colour cost per page of the HP Colour LaserJet CP3505 is 7.50p, 61% higher than Kyocera’s equivalent product, the FS-C5025N. The HP’s monochrome cost per page is 72% higher than Kyocera’s.

Ian Joslin, General Manager at Kyocera UK, stated: “For HP to claim that this technology offers customers a cost saving is ludicrous. HP’s marketing approach is typical of the ‘smoke and mirrors’ tactics that have been employed by our competitors for many years. It obscures the short-life, high-waste nature of their technology and the consequent costs that will be passed on to users.”

He continued: “The fact is that the HP Colour LaserJet CP3505 is a throwaway product, designed to be disposed of at the end of its short life. To dress this up in claims of economy is disingenuous and amounts to false advertising.”

Peter Maude, Director of analyst company Charisco, commented: "I believe Hewlett-Packard is guilty of an error of judgement with the misleading wording of its recent advertising. True - a Colour LaserJet CP3505 user needs replace only print cartridges under normal low-volume usage. But, there is no question of the device not having print drums - they are integrated, as is the cost - and the electrostatic paper transport belt is user-removable, demonstrating that it can be replaced at extra cost as and when necessary. It will wear out in due course if used enough. Furthermore, ‘costing a fortune’ is a relative term. Although competitive, the CP3505 does not yet set a new cost benchmark; reduced Total Cost of Printing is down to an 18% reduction in hardware purchase price over its predecessor and not the consumables configuration. If users wish to acquire their colour printing at the lowest possible cost, there are other solutions that will provide that facility at a lower cost than the CP3505."

Kyocera printers have always been designed according to a long-life, low waste principle. Kyocera’s toner cassettes really do only contain toner. Kyocera’s unique drums last for hundreds of thousands of pages and can be replaced to extend the life of the printer. Both the user and the environment reap major benefits.

A complaint has been lodged with the Advertising Standards Agency regarding this matter.

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